9:30 AM EST has come and gone and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has officially begun its trading day. As expected, the index dropped sharply after the opening bell, which was rung today by singer/actress Mandy Moore. Ms. Moore watched as before sound waves from the bell hit the other side of the room, the Dow had fallen from 8,565 points to 8,348, or about 217 points. At the moment it's back up above 8,400 points, but who knows where we'll go from there.

We've been watching cable news all morning, and it was revealed about 20 minutes before the Dow opened today that the White House was reconsidering its stance against tapping the Troubled Asset Relief Fund for troubled U.S. automakers. While we haven't heard anything official from the administration yet, pundits say it does have the power to redistribute some of the $700 billion earmarked for financial institutions to aid automakers. Before the Senate shot down an Auto Rescue/Bailout Bill last night, the White House had refused to consider tapping TARP to save General Motors and Chrysler from imminent bankruptcy. Now it seems all three automakers could file for Chapter 11 before Bush leaves office in January unless the administration acts quickly.

UPDATE: Of the $350 billion available in the first round of TARP fund distribution, $335 billion has already been handed out to financial institutions. That conveniently leaves about $15 billion, which is almost exactly the amount General Motors and Chrysler require to stave off immediate bankruptcy. Still no official word from the White House, other than that it's reconsidering the use of TARP money to aid automakers after the Senate's failure to pass a rescue/bailout bill last night.

[Source: AOL Money and Finance, MSNBC]